Allow us, dear reader, to take a detour from our usual dose of actresses, athletes, and obscure fictional characters to talk about a man unfamiliar to most on this side of the Atlantic.
Vladimir Vysotsky has been called the Russian Bob Dylan; on the surface, the comparison makes sense. Both rose to notoriety in the 60s, both wrote their own music and lyrics, both played the guitar, both brought on social change with their work. But while Dylan was topping the charts, Vysotsky was relegated to playing underground concerts. And while Dylan's drug usage was supposedly curbed, Vysotsky killed himself with alcohol and cocaine, expiring at the age of 42.
And yes, much like Dylan, Vysotsky was Jewish — in this case, half. He was named after his grandfather, who changed his very-Jewish-at-the-time name Volf to the oh-so-Russian Vladimir. Vysotsky himself has mentioned those Jewish roots, but, much like most of his work, it was swept under the rug by the censoring Soviets.
And with all due respect to Dylan, the impact Vysotsky had on his nation dwarfs the one Dylan had on his. He was the voice of a country that did not have a voice; a unique talent and mesmerizing presence that still resonates, three decades after his death, with the generations that followed.
Well, we hope you learned something today, dear readers. We'll now return to our regularly scheduled program soon enough.